Disclaimer - My daughter has been teething, my son has just gotten over croup, and I'm on pain medication due to a recent dental surgery. This is probably a very bad combination for writing a blog. My apologies in advance.
Yesterday was Ash Wednesday. This past Sunday I took both my children to church on my own and I swore that I would not do it again until my daughter was older. So along comes Ash Wednesday. It's the beginning of Lent. It's an important day. But important enough to take two children to church on my own when it's not even a holy day of obligation? Surely God would understand if I didn't make it. But then I wavered. What is one hour of misery and mommy humiliation compared to Jesus dying on the cross for us... So I had to wake my daughter up early from a nap to be in time to pick up my son from pre-school to make it to 12 noon mass without having time to feed the kids first. I was literally praying that God give me ANY excuse to change my plan. (Sometimes I think God finds our prayers highly amusing. But then if I could turn water into wine I would probably find life a bit more amusing too.)
We survived mass only because my husband was able to join us (a miracle) and take our tired, underfed, teething daughter outside. And so it goes. So why did I do it? Because, Ladies, sometimes things aren't about me. It slightly surprising for me to say this because I'm all about taking care of mom. But this was one of those times for me to go beyond my wants and comforts and kneel before our Lord in gratitude in wonder.
Lent is a time that reminds us of our mortality and our utter dependence on God. Growing up I was told that I had to "give up" something for God during Lent. We moms give up so much that, like going to mass on Ash Wednesday, it seems easy to feel that we are exempt. (Somebody asked me if I was going to give up coffee. I might as well try to give up breathing.) But this doesn't mean that we should let the wonderful opportunity to contemplate our relationship with the Lord to go to waste. Here are some suggestions that might make more sense:
Take a few minutes in prayer to imagine that you are meeting Jesus at the end of your life. Are you meeting Him like an old friend or are you hiding like Adam and Eve? Ask Jesus what you can do to change this Lenten season. Do you do something that keeps you from having a fuller relationship with Him? Are you negative towards someone (even if they deserve it)? Pray for that person. Work towards forgiveness.
Personally I am not worried about my actions but my sins of omission. It doesn't make any sense to me just to 'give up coffee' but I could be persuaded to take the money I would pay for my coffee and give it to the poor.
Take time to be more grateful to Jesus for his sacrifice which allows us to spend eternity in heaven with our babies. (Or if you're having a really rough day think of heaven as a place of peace with free babysitting.) Just be grateful that God loves us enough to help us transcend our limitations. Not just get through or cope: transcend.
Offer up your daily activities. You are not just doing the dishes. You are doing God's work by taking care of your family and children. Make your daily chores holy.
Use your prayer time to sit with Jesus in His suffering. How can You help Him? He loves you and wants your company.
Make more of an effort to pray, go to church and receive the sacraments. Prepare yourself for the coming of the Lord. It might not be easy but it will be worth it.
These are only a few suggestions. I'm sure that you ladies have more and better ideas. Me? I'm currently praying that my daughter sleeps well. She's been teething and in pain for a while. Then I will try to practice what I preach.